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After a year of testing smart home products, one fact has become very clear to us: not all “smart” products are deserving of the name.
Your new smart toaster really may have been better off without the WiFi.
Part of the problem might be the nebulous borders of the smart home category, and these days companies are making everything from notebooks to cars smarter — in theory. In reality, a lot of “smart” features don’t really enhance the consumer experience; instead, they needlessly complicate it.
So what exactly is a smart home product?
There are a few different definitions floating around the internet, and companies certainly use the term loosely. (There have been serious discussions during SPY team happy hours about whether the Clapper qualifies as the first smart home product.) One popular definition states that smart products have four key characteristics: they’re digital, connected, responsive and intelligent.
Generally, we define a smart home product as a consumer gadget or appliance capable of receiving commands by voice, WiFi or Bluetooth.
When selecting products for the first-ever SPY Smart Home Awards, we looked for products that offered true smart capabilities, genuine innovation, and convergence, meaning a design that combines several products into a single device, thus saving you time, energy and money.
How We Chose the Winners of the SPY Smart Home Awards
Our team of expert product reviewers and editors have tested a total of 252 products in the smart home category over the past eight months. In order to qualify for the awards, a product had to meet one of two criteria:
- An interactive and connected consumer gadget capable of receiving commands
- A consumer gadget with an innovative, convergent design
So far in 2022, SPY has tested and reviewed the best home security cameras, the best smart speakers, the best robot vacuums, the best fitness mirrors, and dozens of other product categories. Unless otherwise noted, when evaluating a product for these awards, our reviewers spent at least two weeks testing it. Many of the award winners were tested over a much longer period of six months or more.
This August, the SPY senior leadership team met as a group to review the top-rated products we’ve tested in the smart home space. We asked ourselves a simple question before selecting a product — does it make your life better? Only products that received unanimous agreement made the final cut.
We also referred to one of our core principles: we never recommend a product or service that we wouldn’t buy ourselves or recommend to a family member.
Most of the products we selected were originally released in 2021 or 2022, but because this is the first annual SPY Smart Home Awards, we included a handful of products that have been available since 2020.
You can read more about our testing and selection process below, but first we want to dive right into the awards. Keep scrolling to see the most innovative, the most unique and the most awesome smart home devices of the year.
The Living Room: Are You Not Entertained?
Of all the rooms in the modern smart home, the living room is a place for household members to come together. For this category, we looked for products that everyone could interact with. From smart TVs that showcase the latest display technologies to wow guests to versatile smart displays that control other smart home devices, the best smart home products for the living room are fun, informative and packed with entertainment.
Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen)
Why We Chose It: Few smart home devices offer this much utility. It’s a smart display, security camera and smart speaker in one.
Coolest Feature: Built-in security camera that can be accessed remotely at any time, plus the ability to pan the entire room using your mobile device.
Read More: Amazon Echo Show 15 vs Amazon Echo 10
Amazon was clearly being ambitious when it designed the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen). Launched in late 2021, it has proven to us that it’s one of the ultimate devices for the smart home. In fact, it’s not often we get a device with this much utility.
Have friends over? Entertain them in the living room with the crisp-sounding audio. Wondering who’s at the door? You can instantly see who’s there on the display. And lastly, you can use your phone to remotely pan the living room while you’re away with its built-in security camera.
Twinkly Flex Lights
Why We Chose It: If you love the look of a neon wall sign, you’ll love the Twinkly Flex smart lights.
Coolest Feature: Use your smartphone’s camera to create original lighting animations for the holidays, special occasions and much more.
Compared to other smart lights, the Twinkly Flex is a rope light that you can manipulate and flex to create unique designs for your walls. Really, it’s like a customizable neon sign because of its blinding brightness and vibrant glow.
We found it easy to install and set up, so you can start designing right away. Through the Twinkly app, you’ll be able to select an assortment of color effects — or even better, create a custom one with the help of your smartphone’s camera.
Samsung The Frame TV (2022)
Why We Chose It: Televisions are portals to the world of entertainment, but once they’ve turned off, they’re nothing but a big black hole in our living room decor. Samsung has solved this problem with The Frame. This TV displays works of art, photography and even moving digital artworks in a beautifully framed design, all under special anti-glare glass. Visitors to your home will never know you’re hiding a high-quality 4K TV.
Coolest Feature: Multi-View lets you watch TV and stream your social feeds on the screen at the same time; great for game nights or playoffs, concert experiences or anything you want to watch and share.
Read More: Check Out the Thinnest TVs For Sale in 2022
For the design-conscious, there is no other TV, period. The Frame perfectly fits into any space, and thanks to the One Connect box and cable that hides out of sight, you can even connect all the gaming devices, cable boxes and dongles you want, and no one will ever see them.
Enjoy hundreds of beautiful artwork, in absolutely every style and for every taste. Then, anytime you want to put on a movie or the ball game, just fire up your ultra-high definition 4K smart TV. An array of handsome snap-on magnetic frames for the outer edge make it appear as if a work of art is hanging on your wall — and that’s exactly what it is. The 2022 model of The Frame is easily one of the best smart home products of 2022, and it’s changing the way we think about TVs and home decor.
Samsung The Premiere Short Throw Projector
Why We Chose It: “The world’s first 4K smart triple-laser HDR10+ projector” is a hefty title to live up to, and yet somehow Samsung over-delivered with this incredible home-theater heavyweight. If the $5,500 price tag is too much, consider the much more affordable 120-inch version.
Coolest Feature: So, so many to choose from, but the 15-point fine image adjustment is a true revelation.
We spent the summer testing dozens of home projectors, and we had high expectations indeed for Samsung’s 130-Inch Class The Premiere SP-LSP9T. Yet somehow we weren’t prepared to be as fully blown away as we were by this elite short-throw projector.
Whether we were streaming or gaming or watching live TV, the 4K ultra HD image spread across a 12-foot wall was staggeringly good, and the 4.2 channel sound was almost as impressive. It set up easily in mere minutes, even down to fine-tuning the image. The SP-LSP9T delivers that crisp image at 2,800 ANSI lumens of brightness, so a dark room is not mandatory, and it makes this projector a viable flatscreen TV replacement. In a mostly dark room, however, you’ll be truly blown away.
Granted, the Samsung SP-LSP9T’s price tag is prohibitive. If the $5,500 price tag is out of your price range, consider the relatively affordable 120-inch version. The Samsung 120-Inch Class Premiere is also excellent, and most people won’t miss those 10 inches.
Apple HomePod Mini
Why We Chose It: Not only does it sound good, but it’s the only way to have Siri take the helm of your smart home.
Coolest Feature: You can start listening to a song on your iPhone and use the ‘handoff’ feature to continue playing it on the HomePod mini by just holding the iPhone next to it.
Apple’s first stab at the smart speaker was lukewarm at best, but its follow-up, the HomePod Mini, proved more successful. Partly, that’s because the HomePod mini was priced more affordably, so it had a broader appeal right from the onset for Apple users.
We’re still amazed by the sound performance you get from this tiny smart speaker, but we’re more impressed by how computational audio and the Apple S5 chip inside it is able to analyze the acoustics of the living room and deliver crisp, 360-degree sounding audio. It even makes for an amazing movie-watching experience when paired with another HomePod Mini and an Apple TV 4K.
LG Evo C2 Series OLED
Why We Chose It: LG always delivers the best OLED TVs on the market, and the beautiful-looking C2 Series is no exception.
Coolest Feature: Gamers need a TV that is optimized for rich graphics and action-heavy online multiplayer, and the C2’s many gaming specs are some of the best you’ll find, with four HDMI 2.1 inputs, NVIDIA G-Sync, FreeSync Premium, and VRR support.
If you’re looking for incredible contrast levels, jaw-dropping color and amazing sound, all in crystal-clear 4K, then you want to invest in an OLED TV. And if you want one of the best OLEDs money can buy in 2022, you want the LG C2 Series. Available in sizes from 43- to 83-inches, the C2 pushes the panel to the limits, thanks to LG’s further enhancements of the boundary-breaking Evo screen.
We’re talking brightness on par with some of today’s leading QLED TVs, but with the accuracy and inky blacks of an OLED.
Apple TV 4K
Why We Chose It: There are plenty of streaming boxes to choose from, but you can’t find anything else with a more intuitive experience.
Coolest Feature: Use your favorite pair of Bluetooth headphones to listen to your shows and movies privately.
Read More: Is Apple TV+ Worth It in 2022?
Since the living room is the center of entertainment in the home, the Apple TV 4K is your best bet for entertaining family and guests. No other streaming box comes close to matching its user-friendly interface. And yes, it comes with the Siri remote so anyone can pick it up and start streaming.
We also love how you can use your connected TV to access other HomeKit enabled devices you might have at home. For example, we love using the Apple TV 4K to access the livestream of the Logitech Circle View to see what’s happening in the kitchen. Best of all, you have access to today’s must-have streaming apps.
Lovesac Sactional Smart Couch
Why We Chose It: Lovesac Sactionals offer an innovative design that allows you to configure customized seating arrangements paired with a dynamic surround sound experience to take movie watching to another level at home.
Coolest Features: While sitting down, you can charge your smartphone with the built-in wireless charging pad that’s embedded into the arms.
Lovesac’s proprietary StealthTech technology allows you to charge devices wirelessly or via the Sactionals Power Hub, which comes with a 120V outlet plus USB-A and USB-C ports. Embedded speakers powered by Harmon Kardon deliver 4D Dolby Digital surround sound to turn movie nights into a memorable experience the whole family can enjoy.
With the addition of StealthTech technology, you also get immersive sound along with wireless and traditional charging capabilities. The Sactional offers everything you need in a sofa. It is equal parts comfortable, durable, and extremely convenient. It’s everything we didn’t know we needed in a modern couch.
Ring Alarm Pro
Why We Chose It: This DIY home security system will protect your family and home even if the power or internet cuts out.
Coolest Feature: You can use it as a hub to store all the videos from connected Ring security cameras using a microSD card for local storage.
Peace of mind is a precious thing. You’ll have plenty of it with the Ring Alarm Pro, which is one of the best home security systems we’ve come across. This latest DIY solution from Ring also doubles as an Eero Wi-Fi 6 router to connect all your devices at home. We’d argue that it’s a fundamental smart home device because of this alone.
Not only can you set up notifications about all security alerts, such as whenever the door is opened or motion is detected by a camera, but you have access to 24/7 professional monitoring that can send help for emergency situations. If the power or internet goes out, it will continue to protect your home because of its backup battery and built-in cellular connection.
Google Nest Cam Wired
Why We Chose It: Home security is made simple with this adorable-looking indoor security camera. Not only is it effective at capturing events, but you don’t need a subscription to use it.
Coolest Feature: You get free three-hour video event history out of the box, making it one of the best security cameras without a subscription.
Google’s Nest security cameras have built a solid reputation, but the latest ones are no doubt the company’s best to date. We really love the friendlier looking design on the Google Nest Cam Wired, which can better match the decor of your living room.
Whether you have it perched along a side table or wall mounted, the Nest Cam Wired offers outstanding detection to keep you informed about any events happening in the home. It was also consistent at identifying when our pets came into view. Most impressively, we love how you’re not forced into a monthly subscription plan in order to have video history because it comes with up to three hours of video events.
Amazon Smart Thermostat
Why We Chose It: The Amazon Smart Thermostat is one of the most budget-friendly options for someone looking to install a smart thermostat.
Coolest Feature: The Amazon Smart Thermostat is made of 38% recycled materials, while its packaging is made of 93% recycled fiber.
The Amazon Smart Thermostat is an Energy Star-certified product made with Honeywell Home Thermostat technology. It’s the pedigree other thermostats wish they had, and at just $60, it’s one of the most affordable smart thermostats on the market. Considering the Amazon Smart Thermostat can save up to $50 per year in energy savings, this means it could pay for itself in slightly over a year.
You can control it through Alexa voice control (though you need a compatible smart assistant for that), as well as let Alexa do the work automatically. The thermostat will learn your preferences and can adjust the temperature based on whether you’re at home or away. It works with most HVAC systems and requires a C-wire.
Samsung Bespoke Jet Vacuum
Why We Chose It: When we first saw this vacuum at CES 2022, we said that it was the sexiest vacuum we’d ever seen. You could say it was love at first sight, but after testing it out in our own homes, we love it even more.
Coolest Feature: It’s a tie for the coolest feature. We love the sleek charging station that blends into your home decor, but we also love the auto-empty feature that stops dust, allergens and other particulates from escaping into the air.
The Samsung Bespoke line brings stylish decor and a design-first attitude to your home’s appliances, and the results have been consistently impressive. By reimagining what appliances can look like, Samsung is making it easy to match smart home products with your decor. For people who care about quality product design, this is an invaluable innovation. The Samsung Bespoke Jet is a perfect example, and it’s a sleek stick vacuum with a stand-up charging station that you won’t be embarrassed to display in your home.
However, it doesn’t just look great. This vacuum has excellent suction power, attachments and maneuverability. While it’s not smart in the sense that it connects to an app or accepts voice commands, it does feature some innovative features. Most notably, an auto-empty feature sucks up all the dust and debris, and a five-layer HEPA filtration system blocks 99.999% of dust and particulates from escaping into the air, making it the best vacuum for folks with allergies.
Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni
Why We Chose It: This self-emptying robot vacuum has been our all-around favorite since its launch at CES 2022 earlier this year. With its outstanding cleaning ability, vibrating mop, built-in voice control, plus its ability to wash and dry its mopping pads, there’s not much left for you to do.
Coolest Feature: Yiko Voice Assistant is built in, and surprisingly effective. You can even go to a location in your house and call out to the assistant and the robot will triangulate your voice and send the bot right to you.
This robot vacuum doesn’t just clean your home; it also cleans itself. If you want an all-in-one robot maid like in The Jetsons, this is our undisputed champion. It vacuums and mops, and it aced our cleaning tests flawlessly. It’s also got a nicely designed base and recharging station that house all of its self-cleaning functions.
The Ecovacs Deebot X1 OMNI can take care of almost every floor cleaning task on its own, and when it’s done, it returns to its self-cleaning dock to get cleaned up. While it does have its own voice assistant, you can also connect it to Google Home or Alexa to integrate it into your larger smart home.
Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor
Why We Chose It: Invisible threats are lurking inside of your home, but this tiny device can tell you what’s up with the air quality.
Coolest Feature: Alexa can tell you whenever the air quality changes via any nearby Echo Show smart display or Echo smart speaker. Plus, it can register carbon monoxide as well.
Have you ever thought about the air quality inside your home? You really should. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, not only do we spend 90% of our time indoors, but the air inside our home can actually be dirtier than the pollution you’ll find outside. The Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor is one of the best smart home products for the living room because it’s a centralized spot where household members congregate.
Even though you may not find yourself interacting with it as frequently as other smart home devices, we recommend making a habit of checking it. It has the ability to monitor invisible threats such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds), particulate matter, humidity, temperature, and even carbon monoxide. If anyone at home has bad allergies, this thing can instantly tell you the air quality at home. And yes, it can potentially save your life because it can monitor carbon monoxide levels. (Please note that this device does not measure radon levels.)
Philips Hue Iris
Why We Chose It: Superb color saturation makes this smart lamp an excellent source of light anywhere in the living room. Use it to highlight wall decor or accent other lights.
Coolest Feature: Its translucent body radiates a soft glow in the dark.
You’ll certainly command the attention of your guests when they enter the living room and see the Philips Hue Iris smart lamp. On the one hand, its circular shape gives it a distinctive look over traditional lamps, but we also love how it can be used both as a primary source of light or accent lighting as you prefer.
Even when it’s set to its brightest, the Philips Hue Iris produces superb color saturation. If you have other Philips Hue Iris smart lights, you can set scenes to add contrasting lights in your living room. Of course, there’s always the convenience of connecting it to your favorite smart assistant for quick and simple voice commands.
Why We Chose It: It’s more than just a portable laser projector for watching movies, it’s also a smart speaker and smart light.
Coolest Feature: You can project fun animation scenes on walls as decorative artwork for parties.
Rather than sticking with the traditional projector design, the Samsung Freestyle asserts itself as one of the most unique products we’ve seen in a long while. Fundamentally, it’s a 1080p digital projector that can deliver up to a 100-inch projection onto your wall — perfect for movie night with the family!
However, it’s also a smart speaker that you can control with voice commands using either Samsung Bixby or Amazon Alexa as your smart assistant. We love using it to turn on the lights, setting timers for cooking, and much more. If that’s not enough, you can project cool-looking animations and scenes onto walls because it functions very much like a smart light.
Why We Chose It: Hisense continues to rise through the ranks of the budget-level TV tier, and the multi-sized U6H is a model that defiantly overachieves, delivering brightness, color, and contrast more akin to an entry-level Samsung QLED.
Coolest Feature: While Hisense has multiple smart TV partnerships (with its range of TVs using everything from Roku OS to Fire TV and Android platforms), the optimized experience you’ll receive from Google TV is bar-none.
Hisense, TCL, and Vizio all live on the same boat — the S.S. Budget Buy, and we say that with a smile. These are all brands that deliver solid picture, performance, and ancillary content, but for a price that the rest of us can afford. That being said, even if we had all the money in the world (don’t worry, we’ll share), we still might opt for the Hisense U6H, especially as a secondary TV.
Why? The U6H is dazzling. Hisense’s proprietary ULED tech makes for a powerful panel-punch, and the brightness carries nicely throughout the TV’s many shades of colors. And we haven’t even mentioned how much better things get when you start rocking HDR content from the likes of Netflix and YouTube. While it’s not going to give you the 120Hz refresh rate of a higher-priced set (a common loss on budget TVs), the Hisense U6H strikes above the belt in every watchability category. The Google TV on Android TV OS will also monitor your viewing habits to build a home screen of content curated to fit your viewing tastes. It’s pretty amazing.
Roborock Q Series
Why We Chose It: The new Roborock Q Series brings flagship features such as self-emptying and LiDAR to a more affordable price point.
Coolest Feature: It leverages LiDAR technology to map out rooms, which can then be used to add virtual walls and barriers to prevent the bot from gaining access to certain areas in the home.
Read More: Testing the New Roborock Q Series
Making live even simpler, the Roborock Q5+ packs flagships features that won’t break the bank. First of all, this robot vacuum can tackle hard floors and carpets with ease, but we love how well it navigates around — including tricky furniture that can trip up other bots. It’s one of the robot vacuums that we can confidently say can be left unattended while you’re home.
Saving us even more time, the Roborock Q5+ comes with a self-empty charging bin where the bot will empty the contents of its dustbin after each clean. This spares us the time of doing it ourselves, since the self-empty base can hold up to seven weeks to cleaning before it needs to be emptied.
AirThings View Plus
Why We Chose It: Everyone wants to know the air quality of their home, and the AirThings View Plus watches for radon, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and much more.
Coolest Feature: You get up to two years of battery life from a pair of AA batteries, but you can also plug the monitor in via USB.
The air inside your home might not be as clean as you think it is, but the AirThings View Plus will at least let you know if you’re breathing in something you shouldn’t be. The air monitor displays your current air quality and shows the amount of radon, 2.5mm particulate matter, CO2, humidity, temperature, air pressure, and even volatile organic compounds in your air. It’s a lot of information available to you with just a wave of your hand.
With a battery life up to two years and app integration that lets you check the air quality from anywhere, the AirThings View Plus lets you know when it’s time to turn on an air purifier or open a window to let some fresh air in.
The Bedroom: Get Better, Smarter Sleep
When selecting the best smart home devices for the bedroom, we focused on comfort, privacy and health tracking. We also recommended a couple of other gadgets that help you sleep more soundly or get you going in the morning.
Chilisleep OOler Sleep System
Why We Chose It: Our product reviewer swears this sleep machine resulted in “the best sleep of my life”.
It’s a well-known fact that we sleep more deeply in cooler environments, and after a summer with record-breaking heat, a lot of sleepers have been tossing and turning at night. The OOler is a sleep mat that can solve that problem. Using a hydro-cooling system, the OOler cools down the temperature of your bed to keep you comfortable and deeply asleep all night long.
One of our most experienced product testers used this sleep system for 18 months. We only asked them to try it for a couple of weeks, so that’s quite the endorsement. In our review, we asked if the OOler Sleep System justifies its high price tag, and that depends on how highly you value a good night’s sleep. This smart home device won’t be for everyone, but it could be a great addition to your bedroom if you struggle to keep a stable temperature at night.
Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
Why We Chose It: Its compact size doesn’t take up much room on a nightstand, plus we love that we have instant access to Amazon Alexa with a simple voice command.
Coolest Feature: You can leverage Alexa Guard to listen out for sounds such as glass breaking or the siren from a smoke detector.
Nightstands are pretty tight on space, which is exactly why we love having the Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) in the bedroom. Its spherical design leaves plenty of room for other essentials. This smart speaker can be leveraged in so many ways, too, like turning all the lights in the room on or off and asking Alexa what the weather is.
There are even more features to consider, like using Alexa Guard to have it listen out for the sound of a smoke detector going off when you’re not at home. You can even use Alexa’s Intercom feature to announce messages throughout the entire house on all Alexa speakers.
Eufy Spaceview Pro Baby Monitor
Why We Chose It: Baby monitors aren’t just for checking on your baby during the night, but also for making sure everything is secure in their room. The Spaceview Pro baby Monitor’s 330-degree panning and 110-degree tilt allows you to see the entire room with only one monitor.
Coolest Feature: A 5,200 mAh battery means you can place this baby monitor anywhere in your nursery, even if no plug is nearby. You’ll get around 30 hours of monitoring under normal use cases.
New parents want to be able to check on their newborn at any time, and thanks to the 100-foot range of the Spaceview Pro Baby Monitor, you can tune in no matter where in the house you are. Clear night vision makes it easy to see how your infant is sleeping, even in the middle of the night, and the five-inch, 720p display provides an easy view of the finer details. You can even pan and tilt the camera to look around the rest of the room (or to catch your spouse asleep in the chair with the baby).
The Spaceview Pro doesn’t require WiFi, and you can choose between five different lullabies to put your baby to sleep. You can even use push-to-talk functionality to soothe a fussy baby without getting out of bed.
Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed
Why We Chose It: You’ll sleep comfortably because this bed automatically adjusts its firmness based on how you lay down, so you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.
Coolest Feature: You’ll get an in-depth SleepIQ score that breaks down how well you sleep at night.
Sleeping preferences vary from person to person, which is exactly why we love the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed. Whether you prefer a firm or soft mattress, you can adjust the settings to match your preferences. Even better, we loved how the Sleep Number 360 i8 would automatically adjust itself throughout the night whenever we moved positions in bed.
Sleeping comfortably is only one part of the equation with this smart bed because it also monitored how well we slept. Using sleep tracking metrics, it monitored while we slept, and the SleepIQ number it generates each morning provided us with insights into our sleep. That way, we can see what factors contributed to a restless night’s sleep — like being on our smartphones.
Amazon Fire TV Omni Series
Why We Chose It: We know that not everyone can afford the all-out splurge of a flagship TV, which is why we set our sights on the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series. It’s affordable, packed with features, is available in a range of sizes, and has a great picture, too. If you need a second TV for your bedroom, this is also an excellent pick.
Coolest Feature: We think Alexa households will love the fact that the Omni Series can function as a command center for all your Alexa devices. You can even interact with the voice assistant when the TV is turned off.
Sometimes we need just a need TV that checks a few necessary boxes for needs and wants, especially when it comes to size and features, without costing more than $1,000. The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series delivers smart features at a budget-friendly price. But beyond satisfying all the basics for modern TV-watching, the Omni Series offers so much more.
We’re talking 4K resolution, support for some leading HDR formats, HDMI ARC, built-in Alexa and the awesome Fire TV streaming platform for all things web-connected. While gamers and sports fanatics may be looking for a TV with better motion capabilities (the Omni Series only delivers a 60Hz refresh rate), don’t let some slightly slower inputs deter you from this awesome budget buy.
Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen)
Why We Chose It: Those who are wary about cameras in the bedroom will have peace of mind privacy because this smart display doesn’t have one.
Coolest Feature: You don’t need to wear a tracker of any sort to monitor how well you sleep at night because it does so with the help of radar technology.
We’ve tested some of the fancy smart alarm clocks that you may have seen on social media or other product review sites, but none of them perform as well as the Google Nest Hub, which also happens to be one-third the price of these “luxe” alarm clocks.
The Google Nest hub (2nd Gen) is a compact-sized smart display worthy of being on your nightstand. That’s because you have all the functions of a smart display within reach, including the ability to instantly tell time, but you won’t have to worry about Big Brother watching you because it doesn’t have a camera.
We also enjoy having it next to our bed because it uses Google’s Soli radar technology to monitor our sleep. And you know what? It provides pretty comprehensive sleep tracking without a wearable — it even told us how long it took for us to get into a deep sleep after settling into bed. Of course, this is a value-added feature on top of the other useful features such as listening to music, controlling smart home devices and access to Google Assistant.
Why We Chose It: Imagine never going to the dry cleaner again. That’s the promise of the Samsung AirDresser, which steam cleans and sanitizes clothes right inside the home.
Coolest Feature: The ability to freshen up your wardrobe even if they’ve been previously worn.
We should note that we haven’t tested the Samsung AirDresser to the extent of the other products in our awards. Alas, New York City apartments don’t come with space for dry cleaning appliances, at least not the ones we can afford. Still, we have tried out the Samsung AirDresser, and it left us absolutely drooling. This luxury smart home appliance is like having a dry cleaning service inside your home, saving you both time and money. First of all, we really love how it can freshen up clothes and remove wrinkles. Using the power of steam cleaning, your clothes will come out feeling and smelling refreshed — plus it sanitizes them in the process. It can even handle delicates with care to give them that dry cleaner look and feel.
In addition, we love its mirrored finished and minimalist design. Whether you stuff it into a walk-in closet or simply have it out in plain view in the bedroom, the Samsung AirDresser is unmistakable. You’ll even have controls and notifications through the mobile app, so you know when your clothes are ready to be worn.
Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen)
Why We Chose It: The compact design of the Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen) makes it an easy addition to nightstands without taking up much room. And yes, it even functions as an alarm clock.
Coolest Feature: You can set a routine to tell Alexa goodnight and it’ll automatically turn off the lights and set an alarm for you.
Again, the space on your nightstand is fairly limited, which is why we suggest having the compact-sized Amazon Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen). This Alexa-powered smart display has all the conveniences you’ll need waking up in the morning and going to bed at night. If you happen to wake in the middle of the night, you’ll still be able to tell the time even in a groggy state by just looking at it.
If you need to video chat with someone, you’ll still have access to that function because it packs a built-in camera. We also appreciate that there’s a privacy shutter you can enable that covers the camera — perfect for when you need privacy in the bedroom.
Nanit Pro Smart Baby Monitor
Why We Chose It: We recently named this the best smart baby monitor because it’s easy to use, has sensational video quality and comes in at a great median price point for the features you get.
Coolest Feature: Aside from the hyper-fast live stream connectivity, we loved the smart crib sheets that feature a pattern that the camera can use to track your baby’s growth, height, weight and head circumference.
Review: The Best Baby Monitors of 2022
As our No. 1 recommendation in two separate baby monitor categories, including Best WiFi Baby Monitors, we’re proud to give the Nanit Pro Smart Baby Monitor a Smart Home Award. It comes down to two words: connectivity and accessories. This baby monitor has lightning-fast connectivity in terms of video streaming to the app and comes with great camera accessories, like their floor mount and multi-stand for optimal viewing convenience.
If you’re the type of parent who’s also interested in setting customization and sleep statistics, Nanit makes it incredibly convenient with their non-charging sleep accessories, like the aforementioned sheets as well as a breathing band.
Owlet Dream Duo
Why We Chose It: The star of the duo here is Owlet’s Dream Sock, which provides real-time heart rate and oxygen level statistics while the baby is sleeping.
Coolest Feature: The two features we enjoyed the most were the incredibly useful in-app educational videos as well as the magnetization of the camera and its base for easy angle adjustments.
The Owlet Dream Duo has earned spots in three of our parenting categories, including Best Products for Sleep Deprived Parents, an inevitability of the parenting process. Owlet tech offers the most in-depth health stats when partnered with the innovative Dream Sock and, after taking the in-app assessment, the recommended sleep program may just help parents get a few extra minutes of sleep.
For parents looking for the most advanced wearable and health tracker for their little ones, Owlet is a dream come true.
Sleep.Me Dock Pro Sleep System
Why We Chose It: This is the most advanced hydro-cooling pad for anyone that’s tired of being tired all the time. By lowering your core temperature, the Dock Pro Sleep System helps you drift off to sleep and sleep through the night.
Coolest Feature: The ability to cool only half the bed for couple’s who can’t agree on a bedroom temperature.
At night, our body lowers our core temperature, which signals to our brain that it’s time for sleep. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. Unfortunately, pretty much everything about modern life has the unintended consequence of wreaking havoc on our circadian rhythms. The Dock Pro Sleep System takes over where nature falls short, lowering your body’s core temperature with a cooling mat.
For people who run hot, or who have partners that want to keep the bed toasty warm, this smart device can be a godsend. In our testing, we found that it could help even the lightest, most stubborn sleepers get a good night’s sleep. With the Sleep.me app, you can program schedules from your phone and adjust the temperature to your liking. It’s definitely an expensive solution, but it brings us one step closer to the holy grail of sleep products — a pillow that you never need to flip over because it’s always cool on both sides.
Infant Optics DXR-8 Pro
Why We Chose It: Baby monitors aren’t known for their audio clarity, but the DXR-8’s active noise canceling makes it a superb choice for clearly hearing everything that happens in your baby’s room.
Coolest Feature: The DXR-8 Pro Baby Monitor is one of the only options on the market with Active Noise Reduction. It shuts out the static and background noise common in most baby monitors.
Read More: The Best Baby Monitors of 2022
The DXR-8 Pro Baby Monitor lets you see more with its 5-inch screen and 720p resolution, but the true value lies in its Active Noise Reduction features. You won’t have to listen through the static to hear what your baby is up to.
On top of that, the DXR-8 Pro is completely app- and WiFi-free. You access it through the provided receiver, which brings a lot more peace of mind than many of the app-controlled baby monitors, especially for those parents who are concerned about cybersecurity.
The Home Gym: Award-Winning Fitness Products
Home gyms certainly received a ton of attention the last couple of years, and they’ll continue to be widely popular as more workplaces continue to offer hybrid work schedules. These products not only focus on health and fitness, but also can help to ensure that you’re getting the proper attention before, during and after your workouts.
The best smart home fitness products include some ridiculously advanced workout machines and smart scales, all of which give you new tools to stay fit. We’ve included the best products our editors tested in this fast-growing category below.
Why We Chose It: The Tempo Studio trains you to exercise with proper form by using AI-assisted sensors to monitor your movements in real time.
Coolest Feature: All of the dumbbells and weights are stored on the back and underneath the Tempo Studio, making this a space-saving smart gym.
Smart displays and fitness mirrors have been all the rage the last couple of years, but the Tempo Studio still commands attention for a variety of reasons. First of all, we loved not having to use our smartphones while exercising with it because it’s essentially a giant touchscreen — one that’s also used to follow along with exercises.
Through the use of various time-of-flight sensors, the Tempo Studio told us if we were doing the exercise with proper form. If not, it guided us on-screen with tips on how to adjust. You’ll find plenty of exercise options to choose from, including weight training, yoga, barre, and much more. It’s certainly an investment, but we also appreciate that this is an all-in-one home gym solution, as the Tempo Studio comes with tons of weight training accessories and weights.
Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots
Why We Chose It: The Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots are a professional-grade physical therapy tool that can fit into a carry-on.
Coolest Feature: These boots fit over your entire legs and use air pressure to stimulate blood flow, resulting in faster recovery after working out.
Physical therapists use a lot of tools to treat patients, and the Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots are like a consumer-friendly version of professional compression tools. The JetBoots can fit into a compact travel bag, which makes to travel friendly, too. With four different recovery programs to choose from, anyone can use these JetBoots.
Though pricy at $800, we still recommend them to any serious athletes who wants to take better care of their body. Though athletes and more active individuals will benefit most from these futuristic recovery devices, people with desk jobs will also enjoy the way these boots reduce cramps.
Sportneer Smart Ankle Weights
Why We Chose It: Ankle weights are nothing new, but the Sportneer Smart Ankle Weights take working out a step further with smart data and movement tracking.
Coolest Feature: The Sportneer Smart Ankle Weights can tell you if you’re performing an exercise correctly based on movement data.
Sportneer has made a name for itself with affordable home fitness equipment, and they’ve become one of our go-to workout brands on Amazon. With ankle weights, a couple of pounds can make a big difference in your workout. These Sportneer Smart Ankle Weights give you a gym-level intensity in your living room, just by weighing down your ankles (or wrists) as you go through standard movements. Follow along a guided workout on your phone while internal six-axis gyroscopes measure distance moved, speed and position to tell you how accurate your form is.
With eight different training categories and 71 different exercises to choose from, these weights (and the companion app) make it possible to squeeze in a full-body workout in just 15 minutes at home. You don’t have to worry about batteries, either; charge the sensors in the weights with a USB hookup and get right back into your workout.
Why We Chose It: The Theragun Elite is the best massage gun on the market for athletes that need to improve their recovery times.
Coolest Feature: Each attachment serves a different purpose, including a cone attachment for pinpoint targeting.
Read More: We Tried Out Every Theragun Massage Gun
Where the Theragun Prime is for the average person and amateur athletes, the Theragun Elite is aimed at those who need major relief from muscle pain and soreness. It provides percussive deep tissue massage via a powerful motor, and the Therabody app helps you set up a personalized wellness routine. You can even crank the speed up to 2,400 percussions per minute.
An included carrying case makes it easy to store and maintain, while the five attachments each target different areas of the body and muscle groups. It carries a higher price tag than most massage guns, but it truly delivers premium treatment for those that need a little extra “oomph” in their recovery tools.
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells
Why We Chose It: These Bowflex adjustable weights save space by combining multiple dumbbells into a single product.
Coolest Feature: With just a quick twist of the handle, you can easily adjust the weight of each dumbbell.
The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are the oldest product featured in our Smart Home Awards, by far. In fact, these dumbbells were originally released in 2007, yet even after all these years, they’re still the best adjustable dumbbells, by far. Do you know how good a product has to be to retain “Best Overall” status through three decades? Often imitated but never improved upon, new customers will also get a 1-year free trial to the Bowflex JRNY fitness app, with workout classes and fitness routines.
Since basements and garages tend to be makeshift home gyms, space is a hard commodity to come by, which is why we can’t tell you enough about the space-saving quality of Bowflex’s SelecTech Adjustable Dumbbells. All the weights are contained within the included rack, which eliminates mess and saves space. We also love how it’s really simple and intuitive to adjust the weight of each dumbbell. You can select from five pounds all the way to 52.5 pounds, which is a wide enough range for every fitness level.
Why We Chose It: The Theragun Prime provides the same kind of treatment you’d receive at a physical therapist’s office, just DIY style.
Coolest Feature: The Theragun Prime is an affordable massage gun that still packs an impressively powerful motor.
Read More: Head To Head: Theragun vs Hypervolt
Have you ever thought to yourself that you needed a massage, but you didn’t have time to schedule one? The Theragun Prime lets you handle it yourself with up to 30 pounds of force and 120-minute battery runtime, though you won’t ever use the device for that long in one sitting.
It’s for more than just recovery, too. You can use the Theragun Prime to wake up your muscles before you start a workout, and the QX65 Motor comes equipped with QuietForce Technology, so you can use it early in the mornings when the rest of the house is asleep.
Why We Chose It: Build leg and arm muscle with this extremely quiet rowing machine that gamifies your workout.
Coolest Feature: The large touchscreen is responsive and easy to see, but more importantly, it provides the most relevant workout stats in real time.
The Hydrow Rower is a wonderful change of scenery if you’re tired of the spin bike scene. That’s because the workouts make it feel like you’re racing on a boat, which certainly helps to build up strength and cardio. With its large touchscreen, we love watching instructors guide us through workouts, which are plentiful and have a good variety.
In addition, we love the sleek design of this rowing machine, which trades in the clunky design of most exercise equipment for a sexy, futuristic silhouette.
Withings Body Cardio
Why We Chose It: This premium smart scale is packed with smart features athletes will love.
Coolest Feature: Not only can this smart scale measure heart health, body fat, muscle mass and water weight, but you can also activate Athlete Mode for even more advanced insights.
Withings originated the smart scale back when smart home products were still an extremely niche category. And even though the Body Cardio smart scale has been on the market for a few years, it’s still one of the most advanced tools for tracking weight. However, this smart scale isn’t just designed for athletes (although the Athlete’s Mode is impressive). In consultation with cardiologists, Withings added heart health tracking abilities so you can look beyond your heart rate for deeper insights.
The scale itself is made from premium materials and won’t look out of place in the modern home gym or bathroom.
The Kitchen: Smarter Kitchen Tools
Cooking and cleaning are the two activities we do the most in the kitchen, so it’s no surprise that the majority of our selections have them in mind. Beyond that, the kitchen is the true heart of the home in many large families, where everyone gathers together to chat, have a snack and catch up with one another.
If you’ve ever hosted an event and been surprised (and a little annoyed) to find everyone hanging out in the kitchen, then we know how you feel. The next time that happens, you’ll be glad that you have these smart home devices to help you get through the cooking and cleaning faster so you can spend more time with your loved ones.
Nutr Nut Milk Maker
Why We Chose It: Our product reviewers said this was a “revolutionary addition” to their breakfast routine, and it can save you money if you buy a lot of nut milk.
Coolest Feature: We love being able to choose room temperature, warm and hot milk options based on the type of beverage we’re making. Also, the boil feature is perfect for when you just need hot water for tea.
We were a little skeptical when we first heard about the Nutr, a device that lets you whip up your own nut milk at home. Could we really be trusted to make our own almond milk? We were imagining a big, bulky device like a commercial juicer, but the Nutr is a compact countertop appliance that looks like a hot water pitcher, and we’ve been deeply impressed by the results.
If you’re the type of health-conscious person who cares about healthy alternatives to animal products, this is the product for you. If you’re the type of person who cares about kitchen aesthetics, this is also the product for you. After our deep dive review on the Nutr Automatic Nut Milk Maker, it changed the way we approached our oat milk intake. It easily saves you money as well as the temptation to buy expensive lattes from a coffee shop.
Dyson Omni-Glide Vacuum
Why We Chose It: With its unique cleaning roller, it moves very much like a Swiffer Sweeper to clean hard floors with ease.
Coolest Feature: The omnidirectional soft roller cleaner pivots to just about any angle, allowing it to access and clean tight corners.
Sure, it’s technically not Wi-Fi connected, but the Dyson Omni-Glide makes cleaning a lot easier because of its Swiffer Sweeper-like performance. You’ll clean tiles, hardwood floors, and laminates with ease because this upright cordless vacuum glides over surfaces like an ice skater on a rink. This is one of the most impressive vacuums we’ve tested in 2022, and it’s surprisingly affordable for a Dyson vacuum.
Instead of moving in a specific direction, the Dyson Omni-Glide moves smoothly left and right, or up and down. That’s because the omnidirectional soft roller cleaner pivots to any angle, making it versatile cleaning up dirt and debris on hard floors. Of course, it also features Dyson’s legendary suction technology to gobble up just about anything with ease.
Ninja Foodi Smart XL 6-in-1 Indoor Grill
Why We Chose It: Messes are of no concern with this indoor grill because it contains everything you need inside, making it a cinch to cook your favorite foods without the mess.
Coolest Feature: It features a smart cooking system complete with a thermometer that you can use to cook foods to the perfect temperature every time.
Seriously, this is one of the most versatile cooking gadgets in the kitchen. The Ninja Foodi Smart XL uses the power of air frying to get that outdoor grilling experience indoors. With its spacious grilling area, we found it large enough to cook steaks for four people at once. The included nonstick grill grate can even make those unmistakable grill marks we love.
Combining the best features of an air fryer with dehydrators and grills, this smart kitchen gadget is a perfect example of convergence. Lastly, we love that cleanup is simple because oil splashes around the vicinity are contained inside the grill.
iRobot Roomba j7+
Why We Chose It: It leverages iRobot’s latest technologies to avoid obstacles while it cleans, so it’s more efficient with its time.
Coolest Feature: It has the lowest profiled self-empty docking station that’s a lot easier to fit underneath other furniture.
One of the biggest annoyances we have with robot vacuums is that they can frequently be tripped up by obstacles —- whether they’re cables on the floor or a leftover unpaired sock. The iRobot Roomba j7+ eliminates those frustrations because it uses a combination of sensors to not only detect obstacles in its cleaning but also avoid them.
We were really impressed to see it in action, and it avoided the traps we laid for it with ease. Furthermore, it doesn’t have the bulky-sized self-empty docks we see in many other similar options on the market, so it can slip under most furniture.
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra
Why We Chose It: This outstanding robot vacuum and mop combo also has self-cleaning abilities. It’s very adept at executing both its primary tasks at the same time, a rarity for wet/dry vacuums.
Coolest Feature: This robot vacuum has a built-in camera, meaning you can check on your pets, or even use your new vacuum as a roving home security camera.
With its ability to vacuum your floors, then mop them clean and head home to wash its mopping pads, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is an extremely versatile bot. What it may lack in attractive design it more than makes up for in other features, including voice control, advanced mapping and excellent hazard recognition.
Adding an additional layer of utility we don’t often see in the category, it features a built-in camera on the front that can be accessed at any time. It’s like having a security camera on wheels. We found it coming in handy whenever we were away from home and needed to check up on our pets.
June Smart Oven
Why We Chose It: The June oven is user-friendly and basically does it all. The 12-in-1 smart convection oven broils, toasts, roasts, bakes, grills, dehydrates, and more.
Coolest Feature: The camera inside connects to an app so you can watch your food cook from your bed or couch. This innovative oven immediately recognizes foods and allows you to control the cooking process through your phone.
Cooking can be time consuming. Why work up a sweat when the June Smart Oven can take the hassle out of cooking meals for the entire family? Seriously, it’s like having a professional cook at home. This smart oven automatically recognizes food and adjusts the cooking settings based on June’s recipes. Not only do we love that it preheats fast, but there’s also a thermometer you can use to get your food cooked to just the right temperature — so you’ll never have to worry about them being under or overcooked.
Best of all, you can walk away once you put in your prepared meals into the June Smart Oven because you can monitor what’s going on through the mobile app. Plus, there’s a camera you can access to watch in real time how your meals are cooking.
Amazon Echo Show 15
Why We Chose It: Everyone living in your home will appreciate the Echo Show 15’s communal features, such as accessing calendars, getting reminders, and more.
Coolest Feature: Dynamic widgets can relay relevant pieces of information to everyone in the home, like a sticky note for someone to buy more milk.
Amazon’s largest smart display to date is a command center for your entire smart home. It has the largest screen of any smart display (a 15.6-inch 1080p touchscreen) and it can be adapted to cater to the comings and goings of your household. While you can put this on a stand in your office, we believe the ideal placement is in the kitchen. The included widgets can be used to keep an eye on your entire home and leave reminders or make to-do lists.
Furthermore, it provides access to a wealth of information, including the weather conditions outside, upcoming appointments and even upcoming Amazon delivery packages. There’s also a camera perched in the corner for quick Alexa video calls, as well as the ability to use Alexa’s Drop-In feature.
Keurig K-Supreme Plus SMART Coffee Maker
Why We Chose It: Keurig’s first connected coffee maker brings smart features to the single-serving coffee space.
Coolest Feature: BrewID automatically senses which brand and type of pod you’re using to adjust the brew settings for the ideal cup of coffee every time.
Keurig released its first smart coffee maker, the K-Supreme Plus SMART, in 2021, and it’s still one of the smartest single-serving coffee makers for sale. What’s the use case for a coffee maker that connects to your phone? Imagine starting your brew with a tap on your phone while in the comfort of your own bed? Sure, you’ll need to add a K-Cup to the coffee maker the night before, but it’s a nice touch for those of us who are definitely not morning people.
In addition, Keurig’s BrewID technology will auto-adjust the temperature and brew settings based on the pod you’re using, helping you enjoy the best possible flavor from your morning cup of coffee.
U by Moen Touchless Faucet
Why We Chose It: if you’re looking to cut down on germs in the kitchen, this touchless smart faucet is the original and best.
Coolest Feature: Asking your digital assistant for a precise amount of water is a breeze for this smart faucet. It can dispense exact amounts, which are perfect for recipes or crafts (and we checked — it’s accurate).
The original smart faucet, this device is ultra-versatile. And even if you’re skeptical that you really need a smart tap in your house, this faucet will endear itself to you quickly. It’s got the ability to create preset pouring modes, so you can put the dog dish in the sink and ask for a refill, and it will fill the exact amount necessary. You can do the same with your coffee pot, watering can, or water bottle too. Not only can you operate it with the handle, but it also has motion sensing, and it can partner with your smart digital assistant to dispense precise measurements of water — and at a specific temperature.
There’s also a handy hand-washing feature that will turn the water on to let you soap up, pause while you scrub for the proper amount of time, then turn the water back on when you’re ready to rinse. We should note that you do need either a Google Home or Amazon Alexa smart device in the kitchen to manage the communication.
Tovala Smart Oven
Why We Chose It: The Tovala Smart Oven and meal kit help eliminate prep work, reduce waste, and simplify clean-up.
Coolest Feature: You have the ability to scan menu cards to cook your meals exactly the way they were intended.
Some of us just don’t have time to cook, and that’s when an all-in-one meal solution can be a godsend. That’s why the Tovala Smart Oven exists. Simply place your favorite meals inside of it and it’ll do the rest. Really! We love how we could take everyday packaged meals from the grocery store, like a bag of chicken fingers or even a pizza, and then have the smart oven scan the barcode to program itself accordingly to heat up and cool those meals.
You won’t have to worry about the instructions on how to cook them because the Tovala Smart Oven does all of the programming itself. Even better, there are prepared meals you can order through Tovala that take less than a minute to prep, which you then scan and place into the Tovala Smart Oven to cook to perfection.
Black+Decker Kitchen Wand
Why We Chose It: Like other gadgets we picked for the Smart Home Awards, Black+Decker’s Kitchen Wand is a simple but clever multi-tool that can save a lot of drawer space.
Coolest Feature: The coolest feature is actually a handful of features. It can blend, froth, whisk, grind, open cans and more in a single handheld device.
Convergence is a word you’ll hear a lot in the smart home category, and this kitchen multi-tool is the perfect example. By combining a lot of different gadgets into a single device, it can save you time, money and precious cupboard space. We got the chance to test out the Kitchen Wand before its release, and we’re expecting it to be one of the top Christmas gifts of 2022 thanks to its affordable $99 price tag.
We first reported on the Kitchen Wand after seeing a demo at a Pepcom event in New York City earlier this year. We originally thought this would be an exciting new kitchen gadget for the summer, but we’re still waiting on Black+Decker to open up this product for purchase. On July 1, 2022, the company tweeted that units will be available for purchase in August.
Breville Joule Oven Air Fryer Pro
Why We Chose It: The Breville Joule Oven Air Fryer Pro isn’t just “smart,” it’s incredibly versatile. Though large, this tank of a kitchen appliance essentially does the job of four appliances that could otherwise be taking up space on your counter.
Coolest Feature: Our product reviewer called this smart air fryer a “revelation”, and it gives you the ability to adjust temperature and other settings using your smartphone — all without getting off the couch.
Remember how great it was to get music, internet and phone calls on a cell phone? Here’s the kitchen edition. This oven will help millennials who can’t cook their way out of a paper bag to finally feed themselves, and Breville really hit the mark with this one.
Whether you have a busy kitchen or are looking to consolidate appliances to get more out of your counter space, the Joule Smart Oven does practically anything you require of it. We tested this smart oven over a two-month timeframe and found that it makes a wise investment if you need the do-all-end-all option for quick meals with the guidance of app-based tech to help flex your culinary muscle.
The Bathroom: Smart Morning Routines Start Here
Just like the bedroom, the best smart home products for the bathroom have to take privacy seriously. That means no smart home gadgets with cameras, for obvious reasons. The bathroom is the place where we spend a lot of our morning routine, like brushing our teeth and taking a shower. The best smart gadgets for the bathroom offer some benefit for our health or hygiene.
Google Nest Mini
Why We Chose It: Its compact size makes it the perfect smart speaker for the bathroom, and you can use it to listen to music while in the shower.
Coolest Feature: You can get personalized responses with Voice Match, which lets it discern you from another member of your household when asking Google Assistant about upcoming appointments.
We may not spend a whole lot of time in the bathroom compared to other places in the home, but the Google Nest Mini makes a case for itself. This compact smart speaker can also be wall-mounted, which is perfect if you don’t have enough shelf space for it.
Of course, when you’re in the bathroom brushing your teeth or showering, you’ll appreciate the music you can play while doing those activities. Voice commands also come in handy for those instances, especially if you’re curious about traffic conditions for your work commute. With this smart speaker, you can ask about weather or traffic without getting out of the shower.
Panasonic Multishape Groomer
Why We Chose It: This is one of our favorite product releases of the year so far, and it’s an all-in-one grooming solution for men.
Coolest Feature: Speaking of convergence, this multi-use grooming tool combines an electric toothbrush, electric razor, beard trimmer, ear and nose trimmer, and precision trimmer into a single device.
When we found out that Panasonic was releasing a 5-in-1 electric grooming tool for men, we were a bit nervous. The brand’s seriously impressive (and seriously expensive) Arc6 Electric Razor costs $500. And that’s why we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the newly released Panasonic Multishape costs just $130-$170 depending on the attachments you need. We expect this to be one of the most popular Christmas gifts for men in 2022, and we can’t recommend it enough.
This ingenious grooming tool features interchangeable attachments that include an electric toothbrush, an electric razor, a beard trimmer and a precision trimmer. It’s easy to swap out the attachments, and the battery lasts longer than we expected given how much we were using it. By combining so many grooming tools into one, it’s a major space and money-saver, and a perfect example of smart product design.
JBL Clip 4
Why We Chose It: At only a little more than five inches across, the JBL Clip 4 is compact enough to go anywhere but loud enough to deliver impressive audio quality.
Coolest Feature: Despite its small size, the JBL Clip 4 boasts up to 10 hours of battery life and Bluetooth 5.1 compatibility.
Read More: The Best Waterproof Speakers of 2022
The JBL Clip 4 lets you take your music on the go. It’s small, coming in at only 5.3 inches across and 3.4 inches high, but has a 5W output that puts smaller speakers to shame. It’s also designed to be nice to look at, so you don’t have to worry about a hideous attachment on your backpack or purse. With a frequency response range of 100Hz to 20kHz, you’ll get impressive sound without any tinniness.
It’s also a durable speaker that boasts an IP67 weather resistance rating. While you probably shouldn’t throw it in the pool, the JBL Clip 4 can stand up to a bit of rain and dust. At just $50, it has a budget-friendly price but decidedly not-budget performance.
Eufy Smart Scale P2 Pro
Why We Chose It: The Eufy Smart Scale P2 Pro delivers more than just standard measurements and weight, and it’s a cost-effective smart scale that will put your existing bathroom scale to shame.
Coolest Feature: The Eufy Smart Scale P2 Pro can display an in-app 3D model of your body based on your vital metrics like weight, muscle mass, BMI, and more.
Are you still using a regular digital bathroom scale? Then you don’t realize what you’re missing. We love that this smart scale (currently on sale for just $60 via Amazon), can monitor your heart rate as soon as you step on, but that’s not all it can do.
It takes time to see change while working out, but the Eufy Smart Scale P2 Pro can help you notice the small shifts happening in your body. It tracks 16 different metrics, including bone and muscle mass, body fat, body type, subcutaneous fat, and more. Many of these measurements are typically taken with calipers or an expensive machine, so getting this level of detail at home is impressive.
There are also standard features, too: like child and pet weight measurements. If you allow the scale to record all of your vital metrics, you can then see a 3D depiction of yourself (minus identifying details, since it isn’t taking a photo) within the Eufy app. In addition, this smart scale and app can sync with third-party health tracking apps and accommodate multiple users.
Ampere Shower Power
Why We Chose It: We enjoy showers even more now because of this Bluetooth speaker shower head. It’s so simple to install that anyone could do it in about five minutes.
Coolest Feature: You’ll never have to worry about recharging this Bluetooth speaker thanks to its unique hydro-charging design.
You can easily get a waterproof Bluetooth speaker that you can bring with you when showering, but at some point, you’ll need to recharge it. That’s why we appreciate the convenience of the Ampere Shower Power. It’s an easy-to-install Bluetooth speaker shower head that took us minutes to install.
Of course, we love being able to play music through this Bluetooth speaker, which we have to admit sounds pretty good in the shower. But even better is the fact that it doesn’t need to be removed because it gathers power while you shower. That’s because the flow of water through the shower head helps to charge its internal battery.
Why We Chose It: You’ll save yourself time and hassle from having to clean up after your cats because it does all the cleaning on its own.
Coolest Feature: You can track your cat’s weight over time, which can help to uncover underlying health issues.
Read More: The Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes
The best smart home products make you feel like you’re living in the future, and that’s how we feel every time the Litter-Robot automatically empties itself. Your cats deserve a clean litter box, and you deserve to spend less time worrying about whether your home smells like cat pee. That’s where the Litter-Robot 4 comes to save the day, saving us time and keeping our homes mess and odor-free. We’re still in the process of fully testing the Litter-Robot 4, but we’ve been incredibly content with its predecessor, and we trust this brand’s commitment to quality.
The newest Litter-Robot features a much larger opening in the front as well as an additional health tracking function. This device can now monitor your cat’s weight over time, which can be helpful in potentially uncovering an underlying health concern. On top of that, the Litter-Robot 4 can now sense if the litter level is low and notify you that more needs to be added.
The Outdoors: Always Ready for Anything
While the majority of smart home devices in this category focus on security (which isn’t too surprising since peace of mind is a valuable thing for every homeowner), we also looked at products that help out with entertaining guests in the backyard, decorative items that add function, and services that take the hassle out of lawn work.
Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight
Why We Chose It: Pairing 2K resolution and HDR video, the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight captures every event, day or night, with incredible detail and contrast to see what’s happening outside.
Coolest Feature: Recharging this wireless outdoor home security camera is a breeze thanks to the included magnetic mount, so you’re not unscrewing it from the mount every time like with other cameras.
Read More: The Best Outdoor Security Cameras
Keeping watch outdoors can be tough for security cameras, especially when the sun goes down and night vision kicks in. With the Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight, however, its impeccable video quality captures every detail no matter the light conditions. High-contrast scenes pose no problem at all either, thanks to its 2K HDR video capture that helps to even out the exposure in both light and dark areas of a scene.
A built-in spotlight will power on when motion is detected, helping you capture any intruders or unwanted animal visitors. Moreover, we can’t rave enough about the unbelievable quality of this camera’s color night vision. This technology adds another layer of detail to your nighttime footage that you don’t get with traditional black and white footage.
Google Nest Cam Battery
Why We Chose It: Capable of being used indoors and out, the Google Nest Cam Battery has the utility to continue working through power and internet outages.
Coolest Feature: You don’t have to sign up and pay for a subscription service in order to view video events because it comes with up to three hours of video event history out of the box.
Simple, easy, and very intuitive to use, the Google Nest Cam Battery has been one of our favorite home security cameras for the past year. You could use it as an indoor security camera, but it can also work outdoors because it’s battery-powered and rated for upwards of seven months of use — plus it has a handy magnetic base that makes it a breeze to position.
Keeping watch outdoors, it has on-board machine learning that lets it distinguish vehicles, pets, people and familiar faces. However, its biggest asset is the ability to continue working through power and internet outages. You’ll have up to three hours of free video event history that will store clips internally even when the internet goes down. For enhanced home security, it doesn’t get any smarter than Google Nest Cam
Anker 757 Powerhouse
Why We Chose It: The Anker 757 Powerhouse is aptly named, with 1,500W of power and up to 3,000 battery cycles.
Coolest Feature: The Anker 757 can regain up to 80% of its total charge in just one hour, and can even charge using solar power. This beast of an appliance is currently the world’s most powerful power station.
Anker calls its new 757 Powerhouse “the longest lasting” power bank, and we believe that’s accurate. With 3,000 estimated recharge cycles, it will last around six times longer than the average life of 500 cycles. Pair that with 13 different ports for all of your devices, the ability to charge through solar, and a sub-20 millisecond uninterruptable power supply, and the 757 Powerhouse earns its name.
It also includes a five-year warranty, so you can purchase it with confidence. It’s a great option for backup power should the lights ever go out because of a storm or natural disaster, but it can also do double duty on camping trips or other outdoor adventures. Look at it this way: with that much power, it can recharge your phone 97 times, or power a portable fridge for 22 hours.
Ring Solar Wall Light
Why We Chose It: This connected outdoor light from Ring can help deter unwanted visitors from snooping around your home, and it gathers power with the help of the sun.
Coolest Feature: Routines can be set to turn on the lights indoors whenever motion is detected.
Read More: These Are the Smart Outdoor Lights To Get
Why settle for just another outdoor light when the Ring Solar Wall Light can help be a watch guard when you’re not at home? With its built-in motion sensor, it will instantly send you a notification whenever it’s set off — as well kick on when it’s dark out. For any unwanted visitors that set foot too close to your home, it’s just one extra way of deterring them from getting any closer.
Aside from its security-centric functions, the Ring Solar Wall Light gathers all the power it needs to activate its 800 lumens light with the aid of its integrated solar panel. That way, it’ll soak up the energy throughout the day and then use it at night to power its light.
Bang & Olufsen Explore
Why We Chose It: if you want rugged durability, but don’t want to compromise on sound quality when it comes to a portable wireless speaker, Bang & Olufsen should be your next pick. The Beosound Explore is designed to be a bit more rugged making it great for the outdoors, with a hard anodized aluminium shell and waterproof strap and carabiner.
Coolest Feature: The Explore speaker can handle getting dunked in the drink, and seems to be able to shake off any water incursion relatively quickly.
The new Bang & Olufsen Explore outdoor speakers are fantastic party speakers for any occasion thanks to fantastic sound, sleek design and waterproofing. (Seriously, we even threw it into the pool.) The Explore is a soda can-size and shaped speaker and the ultimate tagalong on your adventures. It can fit just about anywhere and allow you to have great quality audio on your travels. With its durable design and great sound quality, even in wide-open outdoor spaces, it’s a must-have for audiophiles on the go. The unique color options make it fun to match to your personality too.
Jackery Explorer Power Stations
Why We Chose It: The Jackery Explorer line is a long-time favorite at SPY, and it includes portable power stations for every use case and budget.
Coolest Feature: You can recharge the Jackery and power your devices at the same time. Choose the size and wattage that best suits your needs.
Read More: The Best Portable Power Stations for 2022
The Jackery Explorer line of power stations is designed for outdoor adventures, like camping, music festivals or road trips. We’ve tested it out in the field, and we’ve found it to be extremely reliable and easy to use. The smaller models, like the Jackery Explorer 300, feature a relatively small size and lightweight design that make them easy to carry. The more advanced models, like the Jackery Explorer 1500, can power your entire campsite or help you stay powered up during an emergency. These devices are also equipped with multiple layers of power protection, like overcurrent and overcharge protections.
You can recharge your Jackery through your car, via a wall outlet, or even with a solar panel. The latter use case instantly turns your portable power station into a generator, which can be extremely handy on cross-country road trips or long camping adventures.
Eufy Solocam E40
Why We Chose It: It’s an affordably priced outdoor home security camera that offers good image quality and doesn’t require any pocket expenses other than buying the hardware.
Coolest Feature: Excellent night vision performance that delivers superior detail and clarity when there’s minimal ambient light around.
Nothing’s better than having a reliable camera that just does its job well. Also, it’s great if you don’t have to pay additional costs other than buying the hardware. All of these qualities embody the Eufy Solocam E40, a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive outdoor security cameras.
We really enjoyed how well it worked at night to capture events with its crisp night vision performance. In fact, we were most impressed by its range, which easily lit up areas beyond 25 feet away. On top of that, we were pleased by its extra-long battery life that still showed nearly at full capacity after a week of using it. And best of all, it stores all clips locally — so you don’t have to pay for another service in order to view your files remotely on your phone.
Lockly Vision Elite
Why We Chose It: Instead of cluttering up your front door, the Lockly Vision Elite combines the functions of a smart lock, video doorbell, and security camera into one system.
Coolest Feature: Excellent night vision performance that delivers superior detail and clarity even when there’s minimal ambient light around.
There’s a reason why the Lockly Vision Elite has earned our Editor’s Choice award. Quite simply, it’s a convergent gadget that packs so many features into one device. Fundamentally, it starts out as a handy smart lock complete with a keypad and fingerprint sensor to unlock it. AirBnB hosts and rental properties will love how you can set temporary key codes for guests, and how the numbers shift positions so no one can watch you enter in the code.
Beyond that, it’s also a video doorbell and security camera — providing users with instant notifications whenever motion is detected at the front door. Sure, you could buy three separate devices to match what this offers. But why do that when you have all three in one package here?
Ring Video Doorbell 4
Why We Chose It: When it comes to choosing the best video doorbell of 2022, the Ring Video Doorbell 4 is a worthy option that performs well, is easy to install, and offers top-notch detection.
Coolest Feature: We love how its Pre-Roll feature captures up to four seconds prior to the start of an event trigger. That’s handy because you never know what those precious few seconds may hold.
Ring offers an expansive lineup of video doorbells, but it’s the Ring Video Doorbell 4 that delivers the richest balance between features, reliability, and cost. Installation is a breeze with this video doorbell, especially since it features a quick-release battery — so you don’t have to remove the entire doorbell each time it needs to be recharged.
We also need to stress most about its Pre-Roll feature, which can become extremely useful because sometimes other video doorbells don’t record soon enough. Thus, they may miss something important happening. With the Ring Video Doorbell 4, you’ll have a bit more video to work with because of this unique feature.
Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro
Why We Chose It: The Jackery Solar Generator 2000 Pro is designed to provide the closest thing to “fast charging” that we’ve seen from a solar panel.
Coolest Feature: The Jackery Solar Generator supports up to six solar panel connections, allowing you to completely recharge it in just 2.5 hours on solar power, or in two hours through an AC outlet.
Everyone needs a battery backup that can last in even the worst situations. If power is out for days, why not use solar? The Jackery Solar Generator 2000 is one of the most efficient options for translating sunlight into actual usable energy. It displays power flow in and out of the device. With a 2,160Wh capacity and a peak power of 4,400W, there’s little the Jackery Solar Generator can’t handle.
It commands a premium price, but if you need a solar-powered backup for your home, it’s hard to find a product that delivers the same level of power as the Jackery. Oh, and for an added bonus, it includes six solar panels, too. This is a new-release product, and while we’re still the process of fully testing it; however, we trust the Jackery brand to deliver quality products, and we couldn’t resist including it in our Smart Home Awards.
Level Lock Touch
Why We Chose It: Seriously, it’s the only smart lock that doesn’t look like a smart lock. You’d be surprised by how much it looks like an ordinary lock.
Coolest Feature: You can use NFC key cards to instantly unlock the door, much like how you unlock doors at hotels.
Read More: The Best Smart Locks of 2022
Most smart locks are instantly recognizable for the chunky keypads on the outside of doors. With the Level Lock Touch, though, you’d be hard-pressed to realize it’s even a smart lock to begin with by looking at it. And you know what? That’s exactly what we love about it.
Beyond its traditional lock design, the Level Lock Touch offers all the conveniences of today’s smart lock. From its ability to auto-lock itself after a set time, to automatically unlocking based on your phone’s Bluetooth connection, the Level Lock Touch blends all of these features into a traditional design. And yes, you can simply lock it by touching the outside housing.
Why We Chose It: Few portable speakers were made with choice in mind. Not only does it have both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, but you can even choose what smart voice assistant to use.
Coolest Feature: Pairing it with another Sonos speaker is made simple because it doesn’t require any apps. In fact, you can achieve simultaneous play by just holding down a button.
The Sonos Roam is minuscule in size for a speaker, but don’t underestimate it because it packs quite a punch. In fact, it leverages Sonos’ Trueplay technology to optimize its sound output based on the acoustics of the room. That way, it will always play crisp and robust audio no matter where it’s positioned.
We also love how you can choose between Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant as the go-to smart voice assistant. But what really makes it a knockout winner for the outdoors is how it features an IP67 water-resistant construction to withstand the elements.
Sunday Smart Lawn Care Plan
Why We Chose It: Keeping a good lawn can be expensive and downright toxic. The promise of a customized, curated, all-natural lawn care service delivered to your home was an eye-opener.
Coolest Feature: The personalized online dashboard that comes with your Sunday account, which includes a satellite image of your yard, the results of a soil test, and reminders on when to apply your next Sunday treatment.
The quest to have the best lawn on the block, or at least not the worst, usually entails hiring an expensive landscaping service to come to your home and bombard your yard with noxious, decidedly un-green chemicals. Sunday is the alternative, and we can verify that it delivered on its promise of a lush, natural yard. Sunday sends effective and eco-friendly lawn care treatments based on your specific needs, and while that premise might sound too good to be true, it’s very real.
Sunday brought the goods, and all we had to provide was a garden hose and a far more modest amount of money than our now-former lawn service. As a value-add, you can also buy natural products to rid your yard of pests like mosquitos, ants and ticks.
The process is simple: You give Sunday your address and they start the customization based on your location and your weather. You get a postage-paid envelope to send back a soil sample, and then you begin to receive your customized Sunday treatments. Simple? Decidedly so. Budget-friendly? Without a doubt. Effective? 100%.
Wyze Lock Bolt
Why We Chose It: Affordably priced and intuitive to unlock, the Wyze Lock Bolt fashions everything we want in a modern smart lock that’s easy to install and light on the wallet.
Coolest Feature: You can prevent potential peepers from knowing your key code with the anti-peeping technology it utilizes that allows users to add extra digits before or after punching in the code.
Smart locks shouldn’t be a pain to install. That’s why we love the Wyze Lock Bolt’s easy to install setup. Even better, it’s straightforward and intuitive at what is does. Rather than fumbling for the keys in our pocket or smartphone in a bag, we really appreciate the convenience that its fingerprint unlock has to offer.
If that’s not enough, the Wyze Lock Bolt undercuts many of its rivals in the price category, which is one of the best affordable smart locks that has crossed our path in the last year. Furthermore, its battery is rated for upwards of 12 months before the AA batteries need to be replaced.
Office: Smart Products for Better Productivity
And finally, the home office is the place where real work is conducted. The last thing you need is a dysfunctional desk setup that makes you waste more time. When looking for the best smart home products for the office, we looked at smart home gadgets that can transform your workstation at home into a versatile setup that makes you more productive.
Google Nest Hub Max
Why We Chose It: This Google Assistant-powered smart display offers outstanding control of the smart home, including the ability to use it as a Nest Cam to keep tabs on what’s happening at your desk when you’re away. If you have other products in the Google Home ecosystem, then this smart display is a must-have.
Coolest Feature: AmbientIQ technology automatically adjusts the display’s color temperature, contrast, and brightness to make it a realistic-looking photo frame.
While we’re working in our home office, the Google Nest Hub Max is always within arm’s reach. We love having it so close because we can quickly access some of our favorite smart home devices, such as turning on the lamps in the room by simply tapping on the corresponding icon on the display.
Furthermore, we also love how it tailors the experience based on who it sees with the help of Face Match. For example, it can display a reminder about an upcoming appointment whenever we glance at it — whereas if someone else looks at it, they won’t see the reminder. And lastly, it acts as a Nest Cam with its built-in camera to detect motion and send us alerts.
Anker PowerStrip Pad
Why We Chose It: You’ll have a slightly more organized desk with this tabletop-friendly power strip.
Coolest Feature: Being able to tap into its 30W USB-C port to quickly charge our mobile devices.
Read More: The Best Tabletop Friendly Power Strips
It’s a pain having to frequently bend down in order to connect a plug into a wall outlet or power strip. That’s why we love the Anker PowerStrip Pad — because it sits on top of our desk, providing us with two outlets and three USB ports. That’s more than enough ports for one person’s devices and eliminates the need to unplug something else when you need to charge something.
Two USB-A and one USB-C port are built into the fast-charging power strip, so it can charge everyday gadgets such as smartphones, tablets and some laptops. Honestly, we just really appreciate how it’s easily accessible on a desk, a rarity with most power strips.
Here’s the truth: Anker has dozens of power strips, surge protectors and fast chargers we could have easily selected for these awards, including the brand’s new GaNPrime fast chargers. Anker is the No. 1 brand for chargers of all kinds, so if this particular power strip doesn’t suit your needs, simply pick another Anker charger that does and hit that “Add To Cart” button with confidence. There’s no charging brand we trust more.
Govee Glide Hexa Pro
Why We Chose It: We’ve reviewed a lot of smart lights in our time, so very rarely does a new smart lighting product actually make us giddy. These very cool and versatile flat LED lighting pads can be configured in 1 million different ways and deliver 1 million different colors for fully customizable lighting effects.
Coolest Feature: Set your Hexa lights to morph and change along to the beat of your music
One of our favorite new products of the year, these lights are extremely easy to set up, easy to use, and the Govee app is very user-friendly. They go up on the wall with a non-damaging bracket that allows you to switch them around if you like. You can create dynamic color changing scenes, or choose one solid color to match your decor.
These lights are an outstanding backdrop for any gaming area or home office. Make your friends or colleagues on those Zoom calls green (or purple, or orange) with envy.
Looking Glass Portrait
Why We Chose It: Looking Glass is a Brooklyn-based technology company making futuristic holographic displays that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen. While these 3D displays aren’t for the average consumer (yet), we think this innovative display technology is going to spread quickly in the years ahead. This is the type of product that lets you look into the future.
Coolest Feature: Create your own 3D images based on your iPhone Portrait Mode images.
This year, SPY got the chance to preview the future of holographic displays, and we can honestly say that we’ve never seen anything like it before. Looking Glass makes 3D holographic monitors that give creators an entirely new medium for artistic expression (and, inevitably, a new medium for brands to make advertisements). The company has large commercial displays that can be manipulated by hand movements, and Looking Glass Portrait is the brand’s consumer model. It’s extremely difficult to render a 3D hologram in a two-dimensional photo, so we highly recommend watching this video to see the company’s technology in action.
Looking Glass Portrait isn’t like a normal digital picture frame. You’ll need some basic knowledge of 3D imaging software to convert images into three dimensions, but we expect this process to get easier and faster with future iterations. (Portrait mode photos from your iPhone already contain depth information, which can be used to make 3D images for Looking Glass Portrait.) We should note that while we’ve demoed this product on multiple occasions, we haven’t done extensive testing.
If you’re an early adopter, this is a product unlike any other. Place this holographic display on your desk and we guarantee everyone who sees it will stop and stare.
Moft Smart Desk Mat
Why We Chose It: Moft’s new Smart Desk Mat features the brand’s trademark folding designs plus built-in wireless chargers.
Coolest Feature: We love how customizable this desk mat is, and the fact that it can do triple duty as an arm rest, wireless charger, and device stand.
Moft makes some of our favorite accessories for laptops, tablets and smartphones. The brand uses origami-inspired design to create truly unique device stands, and the company’s smart desk mat is its most ambitious product to date. First, let’s talk about the design. The mat itself uses a supple vegan leather, and we love how the included accessories snap on and off with built-in magnets. You can adapt the mat to fit any type of gadget, from Samsung tablets to the latest MacBook Pro.
The mat comes with accessories such as phone and tablet stands, a comfy wrist rest, NFC tags and other tools for organizing your office. The mat even comes with cable holders to keep your workspace tangle-free. Most importantly, the included wireless charger also lets you power up your devices while you work.
Learn More About How We Test Products
Unless otherwise noted above, all of the products featured in the SPY Smart Home Awards 2022 went through an in-depth testing process. The vast majority of the award winners in this feature were tested for weeks or months at a time and compared against similar products. To learn more about our editorial process, visit our page on How We Test Products.
When testing a product, we first come up with testing criteria specific to that product category. For instance, when testing a robot vacuum, we consider objective factors such as dustbin size and battery as well as more subjective criteria such as obstacle avoidance, cleaning effectiveness and overall ease of use. Our product tester(s) rates the product according to these criteria, assigning a numerical score out of 100 in each category. These scores are then weighted and averaged, which gives us an overall product rating. This allows us to objectively compare different robot vacuums.
If you are a brand that’s interested in having your smart home products tested and reviewed by the SPY.com team, please feel free to get in touch.
We are always looking for awesome new products to share with SPY readers.
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Editor’s Note: Products featured in the SPY Smart Home Awards were independently selected by SPY’s editors and product reviewers, and brands cannot pay for a positive review, inclusion in our awards, or “Best Overall” status. We do, however, offer sponsorship opportunities, which are always labeled clearly as “Sponsored” to differentiate this content from our standard editorial coverage. In the past year, SPY has published sponsored content from Tempo, Sonos, and Roborock.
SPY Senior Commerce Editor Taylor Galla, E-Commerce Editor Nina Bradley and Reviews Editor Anthony Mastracci contributed writing and research for these awards. Product testing assistance was also provided by SPY contributors Erin Lawrence, Mike Fazioli, Patrick Hearn, Michael Bizzaco, Allison Bowsher, and Claire Franken.